by Wilson Chan (15A01C), Michelle Zhu (15A01B)
Good news for all cat lovers — Raffles Press has just received news from the Estate Department that the Manna Café will soon be replaced with a cat cafe opened by the owners behind the popular branch currently located at Boat Quay.
With Manna Café’s closing due to the expiry of its lease at the beginning of this year, the school has been seeking out a plausible replacement for the café, which is best known among students for its baked rice at relatively affordable prices. Explaining the rationale for seeking out a cat café rather than just a regular café, Mr Kang Xi Mao of the Estate Department tells us, “We’ve noticed that stress levels are considerably high in our students, and animals are a good way to relieve stress.” Indeed, this is backed up by considerable research, and after examining all other options, the school management has decided that opening a cat café was ideal for its purposes.
Although the owners of the new café revealed that there will still be an initial charge of $5 for the first hour to cover costs, the price is already heavily subsidised by the school and is highly competitive. Ms Ngoh Ma Nee from the Finance Department tells our reporters that “despite the amendments made to our school budget as of last year, we are still able to squeeze out sufficient funds to cover the additional cost”. Furthermore, if you are under the Financial Assistance Scheme, you just have to flash a special pass provided by the school to enjoy an 80% discount.
It is worth it though; after all, what better way is there to relax than sipping steamy coffee in the presence of these furry companions? Students also get to enjoy café staples such as sandwiches, pastries and wraps at highly affordable prices starting from $6. One particular favourite to look out for is the Tuna Wrap ($8), which the owners claim is the most popular food item. Do be careful though to not let the cats have a sip of your cappuccinos — caffeine can be highly dangerous to cats and may even cause organ damage.
Our contact at the Estate Department explained that a cat café was particularly appropriate because RJ already has quite a few school cats, most of which are quite friendly and allow students to pet them in exchange for food, reducing the cost of starting a cat café. For those wondering why many of the RJ cats have been seen around less frequently this year, he disclosed that the school cats have been sent for additional training in preparation for their role in the café.
Though some animal lovers have expressed their worries about the treatment of our cats in the café, reception from Rafflesians we have spoken to has been largely positive. Jennifer Chua (15A01D), a cat lover who knows all our cats by name, enthused that “I cannot wait for the cat café to open, so that we can finally feed ourselves and our cats in the same place”. Similarly, General Paper teacher Mr Caleb Liu, another known cat enthusiast, tells us that “the café will be the ideal place to hold meetings with my CCA EXCO, especially since they are always so stressed”.
There are nevertheless reservations about this café, coming especially from dog lovers and those allergic to animal hair. Celeste Tan (15A01C) indignantly wondered, “Why can’t we have a poodle café instead?”, while a Year 5, who preferred to remain anonymous, was upset that he would have “fewer food options”, just because those who are allergic to animal hair are a “minority” here.
Despite the potential issues that may crop up, Raffles Press eagerly looks forward to the opening of the new cafe in school, and we are sure that the café will achieve its original aims of helping our students reduce their stress from heavy workloads, in line with one of MOE’s goals. For cat lovers out there, the café will be open on the 26th of April for you to grab a cuppa between lessons while playing with our school cats.